We report a series of 15 children, six male and nine female, of average age 20 months, seen at a paediatric orthopaedic clinic with torticollis. Orthopaedic examination revealed a normal range of neck movement in all cases but in seven there was palpable tightness in the absence of true shortening or contracture of the sternomastoid muscle.
The patients were prospectively referred for ocular examination. In five of the 15 an ocular cause for the torticollis was detected with underaction of the superior oblique muscle in three, paresis of the lateral rectus muscle in one and nystagmus in one. Another two patients were found to have an abnormal ocular examination which was thought to be unrelated to their torticollis. Three of the patients with ocular torticollis required extra-ocular muscle surgery to abolish the head tilt and one of these had a tight sternomastoid muscle. Two of the non-ocular group had surgical release of the sternomastoid muscle; in the rest, the condition either resolved with physiotherapy or required no active treatment.
We recommend that all patients with torticollis and no clear orthopaedic cause are referred for ocular assessment since it is not possible clinically to distinguish ocular from non-ocular causes.
- Received November 17, 1995.
- Accepted February 21, 1996.
- © 1996 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery